The Foundation

The Foundation:
In 2014, Drennen’s Dreams Foundation was created by Drennen’s parents, Bill and Melissa, and their friends and community members. Our mission is:

Our mission at Drennen’s Dreams Foundation is to honor Drennen’s legacy by emphasizing the importance of high safety standards for lifeguards, pool management and aquatics facilities.

The intent of Drennen’s Dreams Foundation is to support, inspire and impact our community with a focus on two main initiatives:

1.  Pool and Water Safety:  Drennen was the victim of a tragic drowning accident.  In his memory, the primary focus of Drennen’s Dreams lies in promoting pool safety and ensuring that no more unnecessary deaths occur due to insufficient training of lifeguards, lack of necessary monitoring and medical equipment, and mismanagement of pool facilities.   We aim to work with private and community pools to enforce accountability standards and ensure lifeguards are current in their training requirements, and we will help lifeguards understand what is truly at stake while they are on duty.  We are also seeking donations to provide financial support for advanced training in state-of-the-art equipment and resuscitation techniques.  Drennen’s death may have been preventable, and our community cannot afford to lose another child.  We owe it to our children and our community to ensure that community and club pools are safe and well supervised.

2.  Youth Programs:  Sports and school were important to Drennen, and we believe, as he did, that all children should have equal access to recreation and education.  It is our belief that the youth of our community need resources to pursue their interests – whether academic or athletic – and we want to help make that possible.  We want to provide opportunities for children and teens to be involved and engaged in their community and in their schools; to understand what it takes to build and support a great community; to be empowered to influence and lead in their schools, peer groups and communities, and in doing so inspire these future leaders to become well-rounded individuals.

The D’Zone:
Drennen’s parents knew after he passed that they needed to give back to the community that had been so supportive. In 2010, soon after Drennen’s death, Jennifer Darling, neighbor and friend as well as Senior VP of Philanthropy for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, sat with them and they began to brainstorm possibilities. Drennen was involved in many activities but eventually they knew the main focus of Drennen’s Dreams would be on pool safety. However, the thought of beginning this was overwhelming at that time. Instead, they focused their attention to the outdated youth center at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Centennial, where Drennen and his family were members. Drennen knew there was talk and plans for a new youth center and continuously asked when the work would begin. However, due to financial constraints, the youth center did not look like it would happen for a few years. After Drennen’s death, the church approached the family and made a commitment to complete the youth center that Drennen never got to see, in his honor. After a year of fundraising by the church with the help from the O’Melia’s and hundreds of volunteers from the community, The Drennen O’Melia Youth Center, lovingly called The D’Zone, was opened on June 6, 2012, exactly two years after Drennen passed away.

Drennen’s Dreams Fund at The Denver Foundaton (the”fund”):
In 2012, Bill, Melissa and Jennifer funded the Drennen’s Dreams Fund, a donor-advised fund housed at The Denver Foundation. They saw the spark in the community that had helped create the D’Zone and believed that it could be harnessed for greater good.

The community had their first fundraising event, the Splash Dash 5k Run, on June 9, 2013. Over 450 runners participated.

In 2012, the Fund made donations to the Bereavement Program at Colorado Children’s Hospital for Aurora Shooting Victims/Families as well as Littleton Public Schools Foundation.   The Fund was able to give $10,000 to local and national organizations in 2013 including:

  • Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross
  • National Swimming Pool Foundation
  • National Drowning Prevention Alliance and its local affiliate the  Colorado Drowning Prevention Task Force
  • The D’Zone, a youth center operated by St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and named  after Drennen
  • Littleton Youth Sports
  • Littleton Public Schools Foundation

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